Duck Tape Invented
February 10, 1943
While working at an ordnance plant during World War II, Vesta Stoudt noticed that the way ammunition boxes were sealed made them difficult to open quickly and this could cost soldiers precious time in battle. So, she developed a waterproof, tearable cloth tape to solve the problem. Her bosses at the plant were unimpressed, so on February 10, 1943 she wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“I suggested we use a strong cloth tape to close seams, and make tab of same. It worked fine, I showed it to different government inspectors they said it was all right, but I could never get them to change tape.”
Roosevelt liked the idea and sent it to the War Production Board who implemented her tape idea. They made a tape using woven fabric, known as “duck cloth”, coated in waterproof plastic with a layer of rubber-based adhesive and could be torn by hand without the need for scissors. The tape worked great on ammo boxes and soon GIs found it was also useful for fixing leaks, repairing equipment, and even closing up wounds on the battlefield.
Stoudt received Chicago Tribune‘s War Worker Award for her idea.
So yes, it was originally called “Duck Tape”, because it was first made from duck cloth. It wasn’t used for duct work until many years later.